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Africa’s time to shine: 5 reasons why 'Black Panther' is a must-see

If you're still contemplating whether or not you should go out and watch 'Black Panther', here are five reasons to motivate you.

Black Panther. Picture: Marvel Studios Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - Friday, 16 February, was the night South African moviegoers finally got to see the highly-anticipated African superhero Marvel Studios movie, Black Panther.

Locals headed to cinemas across the country in their numbers, dressed in their best traditional African wear, to be among the first to see the movie.

If you're still contemplating whether or not you should go out and watch it as well, here are five reasons to motivate you:

A POSITIVE IMAGE OF AFRICA – FOR A CHANGE

Many moviegoers, African and non-African, have for years been yearning for something that flips the script on the stories Hollywood has told about Africa and its people.

Poverty, disease, war, corrupt governments have for too long been the main portrayal of Africans on the big screen.

Granted, many of these stories are either true or an adaptation of some of what happens here and even go on to win awards, but it’s a one-sided approach which has neglected the beauty, diversity and positivity pocketed in every part of this continent.

This is the gap Black Panther fills. One can’t help but walk away with a heart filled with pride.

Finally, Africa’s time to shine has come.

THE FASHION

One of the movie’s features which make a loud statement from start to finish is the proud display of African fashion and the significance each item of clothing and accessory has.

One can really appreciate that Ruth E Carter, the woman responsible for the wardrobe, did research to understand not only how certain attires are worn, but by whom and in which settings they are worn.

The cast’s wardrobe borrows elements from cultures stretching across the continent, from the Himba, isiZulu, Sesotho and isiXhosa tribes in the south, to the Maasai in the east and a mix of a handful of others in the western and northern parts of the continent.

THE VIBE

Movie watching is often an isolated experience. You go in, watch it and head right out without interacting with other people who were inside with you.

But what Black Panther does is create an atmosphere of celebration, fun and joy. It almost feels like a December-time family gathering where everyone is just happy to see each other and gets to hangs out.

If you want to understand what I mean, go on Twitter and Facebook and you’ll see a few videos of moviegoers (often total strangers to each other) dancing and singing together after watching Black Panther.

ISIXHOSA AS THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGE

South African acting legend Dr John Kani explains that isiXhosa was introduced to the Black Panther scriptwriters when he had to shoot a scene with Chadwick Boseman (who plays the lead and Kani’s son) depicting an intimate
moment between father and son.

This led to isiXhosa becoming the official language of Wakanda and its people. Unlike a lot of African movies before it which may have a few lines of a native language through its duration (remember Mandela: Long
Walk to Freedom?), a satisfactory amount of the language is spoken.

Of course, it’s not perfect and no one should expect it to be, but it’s spoken enough to reflect a fair representation and it’s used to express various emotions, ranging from humour, to love and anger.

Listen: isiXhosa is the official language in Black Panther's world of Wakanda

THE STORYLINE

Will Black Panther win Best Picture at the 2019 Oscars? Probably not. But how many people only watch a movie because they think it might win a golden statue? We watch because we want and anticipate great
entertainment.

There’s a slight twist in the storyline - you think you know who the main villain is, but you get a surprise.

The film score is awesome (listen out for a few South African tunes, including one by producer-extraordinaire Tumelo Ruele).

The technology used in Wakanda fits perfectly in the story’s futuristic world theme and can even give Elon Musk a good run for his money.

Lastly, it’s a feel-good movie you can take your kids to watch (if they’re older than the age 13 restriction).

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